END - Out
There were sounds like a deep, flowing gasp, though I didn't know if mom or dad said it.
"So, you're choosing to be GAY? Why would you do that? You'll just make it all so much harder on yourself and us. Just choose to be a nice boy."
Her eyes flashed. "Gay has nothing to do with it. I like boys and girls equally anyway. AND I AM A GIRL!"
Mom's head dipped up with bloated eyes staring unblinkingly at Maggie, who didn't step back.
"A girl? Do you even understand what that means? Girls go through so much more than guys. You don't understand the pain. You don't understand the ordeal or the sacrifice. You think you can just claim that on a whim? Boys have it easy. You have no idea…"
Maggie shook her head and whispered, "Easy?…You just said I'm making it harder. And it is harder. Trying hard when I have no one around to help me learn and only parents to terrify me if I don't keep to their fucking ancient gender clichés. Wondering how much it all might cost…and what all I need to do…and knowing my best would still be miles behind passing for any average girl. Yeah, fucking easy…"
She trembled, like the words she was speaking were just what she could control of an upwelling fountain capped under pressure for so long.
Silence followed her bitter words. The response was, "You're such a disappointment. Maybe if you worried more about making money rather than your crazy ideas of gender then you'd actually amount to something. But all you can do is whine and make problems for yourself. Now wash me…"
Goo, pus, and other foul materials welled up all around mom. She bloated like a bubble preparing to burst. I braced myself, but she just undulated. Maggie took a step forward and said, "If I'm such a disappointment, then why am I so necessary? Needed all the time to do this and do that. I take care of you. I'm your nurse. I'm you're comforter. I'm the mother…and more one than you were to me!"
The mass rippled and swelled. Maggie approached it and looked it down. She continued, "You are right though. I'll never know what it's like to grow up female with all that goes with it. And that family life, of my quiet dreams, is impossible. I'll never be the little sister who can tease her older brother. But…whatever pieces of me which I can express…I will fight for…with everything I have."
The rumble continued. I was sure that it would erupt all over her, covering her in all those nasty things. My throat quivered at the lingering, terrible smells. I sent along whatever strength I could for my sister.
To my surprise, Maggie reached down to touch mom. Where her skin made contact, the masses edged away, just out of reach.
Maggie continued, "Just like you had to fight for everything growing up. I know it was hard. But…you said once in teaching me how to treat others…Why make things harder on others? Care for them. And I cared for you and dad. I love you both. I always will. I just have so many hard days around both of you because you can't let me say who I am."
The violence of a moment before turned to a slow bubbling as the mass asked, "Then tell me…who are you?"
Maggie's eyes widened. The buried eyes on mom were focused right on her. She turned and saw dad's as well. Her lips curled a bit. I wished I could help her with the words, but they came to her eventually.
"As I said, I am a girl. Even though I haven't gone through everything as a girl. I know what I am. I know my heart. It's like…you can take away all the flesh on a body…you can take away every distinguishing feature. And a body still knows what it is. It's in there. In my brain…my heart…my soul. Everything can be taken away from me. I can be a blob of flesh and I'd know with every beat of my heart that I am a girl. Facing that battle is a wall of sadness and not knowing what I can do about it. And it's so very hard without my family to help. But I know that I never told you this. I was too scared to show it. Too vulnerable. But here it is. This is me. I'm Maggie."
As she gestured to herself, the female form she had from the switchboard slowly returned to her.
Gently, the masses around our parents receded. The gore and horrors ebbed away to reveal their normal bodies. Mom looked at Maggie and said, "Hello, Maggie. My little girl."
Maggie trembled as tears streamed down her face. She embraced mom and so did I. Dad joined us with a smile after slowly getting up from his chair.
After the hugs, we all talked for a long time. Some of the talk regressed. Dad would dip into ambling talk about old computers and then snap out with a comment about taking out the trash. We imagined trash to take out to placate him. We talked. We argued a little. We even randomly screamed. But, by the end of it, Maggie and I still felt calm.
It was like a therapy none of us had gone to as a family. When tiredness passed over Maggie and me, the door appeared. It was a dim but clear color of white, as though a cruddy black door had been scrubbed clean.
Stepping through, we somehow found ourselves back at the train station or at least one of them. Maggie sat on the bench and cradled her head.
I sat next to her and asked, "Do you think the house did all that?"
She frowned and noted, "Could've done it better than scaring us to heck."
I leaned against her. "You said the house reflects our minds. So, maybe we did it."
Maggie just raised her eyebrows and shrugged.
I smirked a little and noted. "So, I guess it could be said we cleaned out the house of our minds…"
Looking over at me, Maggie said, with narrowed eyes, "You definitely deserve some sibling punishment for that…" She leapt on me and tickled mercilessly. I tried to counterattack, but she was just too strong, despite being smaller than me again. When all the squirms and laughs were done, we sat there.
Maggie tapped her foot slowly. "That…all that with mom and dad. It helped. I dunno about cleaning. And I don't know if it makes it all right now. But…it helped." I put my hand on her shoulder and she smiled gently. I told her, "For me too. I wish it was really them. But, yeah, it helped."
Before long, a train puffed its way from the corner and pulled to a stop at the station. There was no conductor or operator. We made our way to one of the passenger cars and leaned out the windows.
Automatically, the horn sounded and the train pulled away. We rode off as the air washed over us and a new dawn rose over the distant wall. Maggie leaned her head on the edge of the window and let the air play with her hair. I leaned my hand out and felt the air cascade over it. I tried to see if my fingers could brush against anything as we rode past.
The room had a little of the scale model village of before, but the setting was more a pristine wilderness. The grass felt real. The rocks didn't seem like imitations. The walls were harder to make out. And the sun which rose felt as brilliant as the real one in the sky.
We pulled into a familiar station. I could see a glimpse of the bar area near where I had entered. When we got out, I held Maggie's hand and told her, "You can stay with me."
Her eyes widened. "With you?"
I told her I had a decent apartment. There was a spare bedroom. She could do all sorts of crazy stuff so long as it wasn't at three in the morning. She smirked and noted, "There's an endless house before us and you're willing to go back to a small apartment?"
I razzed her a little and noted it wasn't that small, adding, "And it would be ours."
She hugged her arms and sighed to herself. "Alright."
I led her out of the house, taking the route I remembered. Back through the long hallway. Across the loft and out the garage guest house. I had to drag her from the video games in the enclosed porch. Then to the spare room's closet.
It took a moment to push the latch open and step around the junk. We emerged to a house which felt familiar and seasoned with age. All the regular rooms were there. All the cobwebs too. Maggie sighed and looked at the extra door behind the closet for a long time, as though she expected it to vanish away.
Putting my hand on Maggie's shoulder, I reassured her, "I'm sure the rest of the house will be there…if ever we need it again."
She nodded and then looked down. She gasped. "I'm still a girl. Each time I left before…I reverted!" She hugged herself and twirled.
Looking at me in relief, she sighed. "I was really worried about that. I guess I can live with not being able to have any meal for a few buttons."
As she went to go check herself out in the bathroom mirror, I checked the clock by the kitchen. According to it, I had only been away for about an hour. It definitely felt longer.
I went to the front door to check and see if my car was still in the same place. Upon opening the door, I froze and peered out. Frowning, I turned and called to Maggie. She came quickly and stared at what I saw.
The house's extended front porch had the same dusty bench and worn chairs as always. But, to the left side of the brick column, at the top of the cement steps, was a single, white door standing freely.
The door was brilliant ivory. And it was more than the fact it was outside in the sunlight. A door brighter than any door inside the house and any door I'd seen anywhere. The knob was polished to the point it reflected a vision of the whole porch on its surface. Maggie staggered back on her heels and resolved, "We're still inside the house. That's got to be it. Makes sense…I'm still a girl. I guess we have to camp out on the lawn."
The way was open to the right leading to the grass. We grabbed a couple of sleeping bags, pitched a small tent, and told the confused neighbors we were camping out.
At first, it was hard to sleep. We spent a while trying to get each other to laugh with ridiculous stories. Eventually, we nodded off together.
When we woke, we unzipped the tent and peered out at the porch. The door was still there, same as before, even with dusk falling. Maggie paced and shook her head.
"This isn't right. We should be outside the house. What's going on?!" She made a motion like she was about to kick the door, but she restrained herself.
We ventured back through the hidden doorway and to Maggie's world through the route she remembered. Her house, just as dusty but with some of her own choices of décor, had a door standing on the front porch as well.
Back on my porch, Maggie cradled her head in her hands and mumbled, "This doesn't make sense….we should be outside."
We thought it over. We went for a drive. The town was just as I remembered it, though Maggie got annoyed that certain businesses she liked on her side were closed up over here. We stayed a night at my apartment. The door was still there the next day.
We took some trips. We ventured around to familiar and fun areas. Each time, the door was still there.
One day, I brushed my cheek and told Maggie, "I think we should go through it…"
Maggie shook her head and waved her arms. "No way! We don't know what's through there. It could be anything. It could be nothing. Who knows?!"
I smiled a bit and told her, "Exactly. Let's find out."
She glared at me and gave a slap of her feet. I tried to urge her with smiles, but she was resolute.
I tried, "Alright. Let's just open it. If we don't like it, we can close it and…I dunno, say it's a bit of post-modern art or try lighting it on fire or something."
She protested, but I could tell she was just as curious as me about what was on the other side of the doorway, if anything.
We stood before it and I put my hand on the knob. I thought maybe I would open it and simply see the other side of the street. I turned the knob. It moved smoothly in my grip.
I shut my eyes slightly. There was no flash of brilliant light or block of darkness as the door opened. Pulling it further, I carefully looked through.
I smiled. Beside me, Maggie smiled as well and softly announced, "I think I'm ready to go through."
Looking at her, I took her hand in mine and answered, "Me too."
Together, we stepped through the threshold.
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Bio: I'm MajorKerina and I love to collaborate creatively with a group of friends to make tales where people have their genders, identities, and very realities questioned, contorted, and turned upside-down. I like slice-of-life with a spicing of the supernatural, strange, or surreal. Reality with a scent of the impossible. You can find me on DeviantArt, Twitter, ScribbleHub, and other places.